From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Smith, Elmore "The Big E"

(born: 1949) Elmore Smith was born in Macon, GA, where he played basketball at Ballard-Hudson High School. As a college player, he was the seven foot center for Kentucky State University (K-State) men's basketball team.

Smith is listed among the top rebounders in college basketball. He was a member of the 1970 and 1971 NAIA Championship teams at K-State, coached by Lucias Mitchell. He holds the NAIA record for most rebounds in a season (799 in 1971) and tops the NCAA All-Division list.

In 1971, his senior year at K-State, he left for the NBA, playing professional basketball until 1979. He went to the Buffalo Braves [now the Los Angeles Clippers] as the third pick in the first round of the 1971 NBA Draft. In his first season, Smith averaged 17.3 points and 15.2 rebounds per game and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team.

Smith's rebounding record is 8th among NBA rookies. He holds the NBA record for most individual blocked shots in a game (17).

Elmore Smith ended his basketball career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2008, he was inducted into the Georgia Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was inducted into the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame. After his basketball career, Smith went into the barbecue sauce business.

For more Elmore Smith in Basketball Biographies, by M. Taragano.

This entry was submitted by Lacy L. Rice Jr.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Mitchell, Lucias T.
NKAA Source: Basketball biographies: 434 U.S. players, coaches, and contributors to the game, 1891-1990

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“Smith, Elmore "The Big E",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 26, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-03-15 16:37:36